The convenience of the microwave oven cannot be overestimated, however caution should be employed when operating one. The following safety tips can help prevent painful burns and home fires:
- The manufacturer’s installation and operating instructions as well as their safety precautions must be followed before using a new microwave oven.
- A microwave oven must always be plugged directly into a wall socket, not an extension cord.
- Children must always be supervised when they are using a microwave oven.
- To minimize the risk of fire, only microwave-safe food containers or dishes should be used. Aluminum foil or metal must never be used in a microwave oven. Metal can spark a fire.
- Baby bottles, clothes or blankets must never be placed for sterilizing or drying in microwave ovens, as these may result in a fire once removed from oven.
- Regular cleaning of the microwave oven can reduce fire potential. The oven must always be unplugged when cleaning. The inside and outer edge of the microwave should also be cleaned.
- Recycled paper should never be used in microwave ovens, unless it is specifically approved for microwave use. Recycled products, including paper towels, have minute metal flecks; these can cause sparks and even flames.
- When cooking popcorn, it is best to follow the instructions and begin with the minimum time specified, as some microwaves can scorch popcorn in as little as two minutes.
If a microwave oven does catch fire, it should be turned off immediately and the power cord should be unplugged if it safe to do so. The door of the microwave must not be opened, but instead simply wait until the fire dies out. Following these safety tips can help avoid a potentially dangerous disaster.